New animal health rules set to strengthen Europe’s fight against animal diseases and antibiotic resistance will come into force next year after being rubberstamped in Brussels.

The EU Regulation on Transmissible Animal Diseases, which aims to establish a single overarching legal framework of standards for animal health and public health in the EU, was formally approved by the Council of Agriculture Ministers today.

The new regulation consolidates 400 existing individual acts into one piece of legislation. For the first time, the regulation will list and categorise the specific diseases that are subject to disease prevention and control measures across the Union, setting out particular measures on how to tackle them.

The new rules also put more emphasis on prevention of disease and tighten up controls on antibiotic use in livestock farming. Farmers will be obliged to follow good standards of animal husbandry and arrange regular veterinary visits.

UK MEPs reportedly rejected the new rules due to concerns over the amount of power the European Commission would have over issues such as notifiable diseases. But the majority of member states backed the legislation at European Parliament vote in June.

Animal health group IFAH-Europe welcomed the new legislation, claiming it would go a “long way” to facilitating the eradication of animal diseases in Europe.

“The animal health sector is particularly pleased to have one regulation dealing solely with transmissible animal diseases, which reflects our current knowledge of animal diseases, and addresses urgent and societal concerns, such as antimicrobial resistance and animal welfare,” said IFAH-Europe secretary general Roxane Feller.

She added a common approach on issues such as early detection, surveillance, animal identification and information-sharing was “crucial” because “animal diseases don’t respect borders”.